On the defensive side of the field, we have the defensive tackle rankings for the 2018 NFL Draft. This is a very solid group with as much as 3 possible first rounders.
1) Daron Payne, Alabama
Payne had 47 tackles, two sacks and a pass batted in 2017. He filled Johnathan Allen’s spot without missing a beat. Payne has freakish speed and athleticism for a man who weighs 320 pounds. He is super strong and will test off the charts. Payne is a great run defender, he shut down his gap and kept teams from running the ball on Alabama all year-long. He rarely rushed the passer, but when he did he showed promise the be a game wrecker. He played his best football when the lights were brightest in the playoff games against Clemson and Georgia. The lack of pass rushing experience he got at Alabama might hurt his draft stock a little, for teams fearing he is only a run stuffer. Fear not, he is a complete package.
2) Maurice Hurst, Michigan
Hurst is an athletic freak for a defensive tackle, he has an excellent first step and gets into the backfield almost every play. Hurst finished the season with 59 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 passes defended and a forced fumble. He is a high motor guy, who plays through the whistle and has a very good punch. At 6’2, 280 pounds Hurst is rather small for a defensive tackle, but with Aaron Donald’s recent success, (DPOY) teams might overlook that altogether, considering Aaron Donald is 6’1, 280 pounds.
3) Vita Vea, Washington
Vea is more of a nose tackle than he is a DT, but he is not only a space-eater, run stopper big man. The Washington product had 44 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four passes batted in 2017. Vea has a serious combination of size, length, strength, and quickness at the point of attack. He is outstanding against the run and can occasionally collapse the pocket in the pass rush. He is a better prospect than Danny Shelton was coming from the same program, and role. Vea is at his best when he tries to bull rush to disrupt the play. Vea has very light feet, which is rare for a man his size (6’5 340 pounds). Consistency has been an issue for him, he can look unstoppable one play and disappear later. Must focus on his footwork more.
4) Harrison Phillips, Stanford
Philips had great production in 2017 with 98 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks with 2 forced fumbles and recoveries. He is somewhat light for a defensive tackle at 255 pounds and he is not the greatest athlete, but he is always making plays around the ball. Phillips is very strong which allows him to dominate offensive linemen at ease. He shows good football IQ and awareness.
5) Taven Bryan, Florida
Bryan finished the year with 37 total tackles, 6 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. The Florida star flashes disruptive potential but is too inconsistent. Taven has a great first step and has shown the ability to use his hands properly to shed blocks. He is versatile enough to be able to play defensive end or tackle. Bryan doesn’t show good football instincts, and you find him sometimes lost. He still needs to grow as a player and is far from a finished product.
6) Tim Settle, Virginia Tech
7) Trenton Thompson, Georgia
8) J. McIntosh, Miami
9) Derrick Nnadi, FSU
10) Justin Jones, NC State
Honorable mention: B.J Hill, NC State
For more 2018 NFL draft rankings check: https://www.couchriderreport.net/2018-nfl-draft-quarterback-rankings-scouting-reports-top-prospects/